Summer Teaching Ideas

In my mind, summer is a time to breathe a little. Regroup, re-motivate, relax. Have fun. Do things you don’t have time for during the rest of the year. Here are a few ideas:

  • Duets/ensembles: Piano is so often a solitary activity—get your students making music together. It’s a little extra trouble, but so worth it. Your students will love it and ask to do it year after year.
  • Composition/arranging: Explore your students’ creative side. Get them thinking in new ways. Have fun applying their theory in artistic ways. Some students will absolutely thrive on this.
  • Transposition: Start with simple folk songs, move on to hymns and other accompaniments. Challenge your students to learn this new crazy-hard skill.
  • Improvisation: Give students a familiar melody each week to play by ear and then add chords to. As they get better, work on embellishing and arranging.
  • Jazz: This requires the teacher to have some training in jazz, of course, but jazz can be a fun way to get students excited about their piano study.
  • Sight-reading: Assign students loads of music to sight-read. Have them read for 30 minutes a day or more, especially if this is an area that needs attention. Work on good sight-reading habits.
  • Theory emphasis: Really crack down on getting those often-neglected theory assignments done each week, and take extra time in the lesson to talk about each concept.
  • Composer research: Assign a composer each week for your students to research on the internet. Have them research composers whose music they have played, or want to play.
  • Popular music: Summer is a great time to allow students to play things like Wicked, Jon Schmidt, and Taylor Swift. Stuff that you don’t want to take time for during the school year, because it’s not serious enough for those big recitals.

Obviously you can’t do every one of these things with every student, but I hope these ideas, along with others already shared in previous posts, will help get you thinking about how to make the most of your summer studio!

Jennifer Boster

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